Facebook was created to help people connect. It has become one of the most effective ways to engage an audience, and many local governments are taking advantage of that.
While it cannot substitute for an official local government website, a local government’s Facebook page has so much potential.
The Power of Facebook for Local Governments
When used the right way, Facebook can be an indispensable tool forlocal government communication. It can be much more than a social media presence for your municipality.
Facebook allows you to build a community that caters to the needs of your city or town. It can help in effective governance.
Some of the benefits you can derive from making good use of Facebook include:
Efficient and cost-effective communication of critical information and policies
Increased public trust
A good example of the strategic use of Facebook by a municipality is theFacebook page for Frederick, Colorado. Here, the government posts to promote and document community events. The tone of this online community is alwaysfun and friendly. The government also uses the page to support residents and local businesses. They frequently post news, partnerships, public safety alerts, and more. They even post about lost pets to help their owners find them.
10 Tips to Make the Best Use of Facebook for Local Governments
Do you run social media accounts for your municipality? Here are ten tips that can help you get the most out of Facebook:
1. Keep It Simple
Simplicity is key when you want to engage your residents on Facebook. Though you may have a lot of important information for them, you are still competing with several other Facebook users for their attention.
Keep the layout simple, and use simple graphics too. Try to get your messages across as clearly as possible. Don't ask users to click on a link to learn more. You should also avoid large blocks of text. Rather, break your points down bit by bit.
2. Make It Helpful
Your Facebook page is for the community, so it should be as helpful as possible. Posting critical information that will benefit everyone is great. When you go out of the way to post content that helps specific individuals in your community, it will generate more goodwill. Consider the example of Frederick, Colorado posting about lost pets to help reunite owners with their pets.
3. Make It Interesting
Facebook is a fun place. People are easily drawn to pages that are fun, so your local government page and groups shouldn’t be too formal. Press releases will attract some attention, but fun announcements and pictures of community events will bring even more people.
Remember that your Facebook page is not all about the government. Rather, it is for the people. So it should have posts that appeal to the general public. Talk about the topics that affect the largest groups of people in your community and the subjects most people want to discuss.
4. Moderate Properly
Social media is a tricky place, and a government platform should be as clean as possible. There should be no room for profanity on your local government or town Facebook page.
Unfortunately, you can't expect everyone in your community to behave properly. You can advise your audience to be decent. However, you’ll still have to moderate every post and interaction to keep the page clean. Facebook page settings allow you to create a list of blocked words. You should also monitor the page regularly to remove unwelcome posts and keep trolls at bay.
5. Take Security Seriously
Security breaches are far too common on Facebook. Government platforms are always targets of cyber-attacks, so you must be ready to keep your social media accounts safe. Take extra care to secure your login details and log all activity and interactions.
If you work with a team, make sure every member is security conscious. Emphasize the importance ofsocial media security and train your team, if possible.
6. Post Regularly
You have to be consistent to make your Facebook page relevant to your audience. Don’t wait until there is a big announcement from the government to make a post. Your Facebook platform should be a place where people can get news about their community.
In times of crisis, you will need to post even more regularly. In times of relative normalcy, you should also find something interesting to engage the public. You can be funny without being offensive – most people love that.
7. Post Valuable Content
While posting regularly is important, your priority should be valuable content. Your residents should associate your Facebook page with value, and the type of content you post will determine that.
Your Facebook page is also a good place to educate your citizenry in a subtle manner. You can explore topics like the environment, science, and civic data in short, fun posts. Some community members will be drawn to the page when they see it as a source of knowledge and education.
8. Listen for Relevant Conversations and Engage
Remember that your local government or municipality Facebook page is for the people. You have to listen to them before you can determine the best posts to make on the page. One of the first things to do once you assume responsibility for the social media account is to understand your community better. Read comments carefully to gain insights.
When you listen for relevant conversations, you will be better positioned to solve some of your residents' problems through your Facebook posts. You should also be open to answering any questions the public has. This is one of the best ways to engage with your community online.
9. Stay Compliant
Government’s use of social media must have some privacy requirements. There should be guidelines on what you can and what you can’t post. You should formulate the guidelines and ensure that every member of your team understands the provisions. These guidelines should be in line with the Freedom of Information Act and other public laws.
If you work with a team, it is critical to get everyone on board. Every member of your team must be familiar withFacebook guidelines and abide by them.
10. Integrate Relevant Tools
Another excellent way to get the most out of Facebook for your municipality is to integrate helpful tools. For example, the Polco platform provides online engagement tools.
Polco integrates seamlessly with Facebook and other social media platforms to help communities get better feedback from the community. Several towns have greatly increased resident engagement through this strategy. Frederick, Colorado, is a good example. Others include Bloomington, Minnesota, and Rochester, Minnesota.
Make Your Government's Facebook Presence Effective
Facebook is an excellent platform to engage with your local community. However, simply creating a Facebook page and posting on it is not enough. The ten tips discussed here will take your ability to work with your community to a whole new level.
It is time to take your local government Facebook presence to awhole new level. We hope this post helps you get it right.